Crafting Legacies in Print: Natsume Sōseki, Intellectual Networking and the Founding of the Publisher Iwanami Shoten in Prewar Japan

Crafting Legacies in Print: Natsume Sōseki, Intellectual Networking and the Founding of the Publisher Iwanami Shoten in Prewar Japan
Andrew T. Kamei-Dyche


The present work is a study of the Japanese publisher Iwanami Shoten, which since its emergence in the mid-1910s has consistently held a unique and defining position in Japanese intellectual culture: it has functioned as a center of much networking among intellectuals, a leading force behind intellectual movements, and a symbol of education and cultural sophistication. Moreover, it contributed to forming public personas for many intellectuals, and broadened the reach of those intellectuals through marketing their works in a canon of “modern classics.” The cultural complex formed by intellectuals, publications, and the public, has come to be understood by Japanese cultural critics as comprising an “Iwanami culture.”

The study is concerned with the early development of Iwanami Shoten, considering how the founder, Iwanami Shigeo, laid the foundations for the amassing of intellectual capital that became the publisher’s hallmark. From its inception, Iwanami, an intellectual himself, was closely connected to intellectuals and prioritized effective networking, in particular drawing upon the Mokuyōkai. This was the circle centered around his mentor, major author and cultural critic Natsume Sōseki, and the latter’s disciples, who provided Iwanami with both materials and a source of editorial labor. After considering the development and composition of the Mokuyōkai within the context of late Meiji intellectual culture, the study turns to examine how Iwanami Shigeo founded his business as a used bookstore, gained experience in publishing projects, and finally became a professional publisher. His mentor provided a great source of intellectual capital for his business, first and foremost by letting Iwanami publish his landmark novel reflecting upon Meiji culture, "Kokoro." The study then examines the creation of both the Iwanami edition of the novel and Sōseki’s collected works, the "Sōseki Zenshū," tracing the various design and business considerations that went into the process. As such, the study takes Iwanami Shoten as a lens through which to understand the role of publishers in shaping modern Japanese intellectual culture, and the various factors, first and foremost networking to build resources and intellectual capital, that enabled that role to come about.


Andrew T. Kamei-Dyche

Defended in


PhD defended at

University of Southern California; David and Dana Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Department of History